The issue of human trafficking has gained considerable attention in recent years, with both the federal and state governments passing legislation and creating task forces to review the issue. According to various sources, thousands of people are trafficked into and throughout the United States for labor in various industries and the sex trade. Reliable statistics on the number of people are difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, in large part because they can be difficult to identify. Some state laws, as well as proposed federal legislation, require some businesses to disclose information about internal anti-trafficking controls. Businesses in New Jersey that employ immigrant workers or deal frequently with companies overseas should be aware of the laws and regulations relating to human trafficking.
Human trafficking reportedly affects most aspects of the American economy, according to legislators in both Washington DC and Trenton. The U.S. Department of State has stated that up to 27 million people around the world are “victims of modern slavery,” with 50,000 to 100,000 in the United States. These numbers are estimates based on a variety of factors, while actual arrests reflect much lower numbers. According to the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, the state has encountered 179 cases of human trafficking, including both labor and sex trafficking since 2005, a rate of approximately twenty-six cases per year.
The federal Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 provides for a wide range of federal efforts to combat trafficking. These include provisions for sanctions against countries that permit human trafficking and sentencing enhancements for individuals convicted of federal trafficking-related offenses. A bill proposed in Congress in 2011 would require certain large businesses to include information on anti-trafficking efforts in their annual filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The required information would include company policies addressing prevention of trafficking and adherence to labor laws.
The federal bill was modeled on the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010, which requires certain retail and manufacturing businesses in the state to disclose their own anti-trafficking efforts and the methods they use to verify that their suppliers do not engage in or directly benefit from trafficking. The law took effect January 1, 2012, but only applies to businesses with annual gross revenues of $100 million or more.
New Jersey law primarily deals with the criminal aspects of trafficking. The state’s Code of Criminal Justice makes it a crime of the first degree to recruit, entice, lure, or transport a person by force, fraud, or other unlawful means, for the purpose of sexual activity. An offense is punishable by twenty years to life in prison. A bill introduced in the state’s Assembly would increase penalties for certain offenses, provide additional training for law enforcement, and create a commission to review state anti-trafficking efforts.
The immigration attorneys of Samuel C. Berger, P.C. help immigrants seeking visas through family members or employment, and help New York or New Jersey businesses to petition for skilled immigrant employees. To schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers today, contact us online or at (212) 380-8117.
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Photo credit: ‘Trafficking of women, children and men routes’ by KVDP (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.